Because of my upbringing, I take Halloween very seriously.
When I say "my upbringing", what I mean is this: my childhood house turned into a crypt for the entire month of October and part of November because my mother takes Halloween very seriously. Our front yard was a cemetery. Our windows were blockaded with ghosts and warning signs. Navigating the spider webs in the hallways became an important skill. There was a fountain of blood in our dining room. Doorknobs turned into monster hands. Am I painting enough of a picture for you? Every year my parents threw a balls-out, lavish, enormous Halloween party for 100 of their closest friends. I've decided it's my responsibility to uphold this tradition, albeit on a slightly smaller scale in my adult life. In that spirit: a little Halloween party food porn:
We had Rotten Eggs, which were a riff on this excellent Food & Wine recipe, in which I bumped up the wasabi by about double and zipped up some chive oil to make the yolks brightly, disgustingly green. These were super salty and a huge hit.
Then there was a brain made of pimento cheese. We had 'goat eyes', made from goat cheese and a green olive sliced in half. And then, there were the real brains and eyeballs:
Timmy (we've discussed him and his love of Buffalo sauce before), my brother-in-law and sous chef at The Good Fork, very kindly offered a hook-up to his butcher who provided us a with a fresh lamb's head, split straight down the middle for roasting. Which we did, with a lot of lemon, oregano and olive oil. We tucked a few onions underneath, bathed the whole thing in stock and roasted it in the oven until the brains puffed up and the tongue was tender. Here's a trick, when you serve something with toast points and roasted onions, even people who are afraid of eating lamb brains will tuck in. If you are one of those people, come over and I will make this for you because WOW, it was so good.
And then, to bring our journey full-circle, we had some mother effing cream cheese.
Um, yes, I got a bit creative with the presentation. It was Halloween. What other time of year can I get away with sculpting a face made of prosciutto and roasted red peppers? I have to take opportunities to be weird where I can get them, you guys. The focus here, however, is on the little skewered cream cheese balls. Technically these are supposed to be covered in caviar. BUT TIMES ARE TOUGH, dudes, so I went with the alternative preparation. Maybe someday we'll try the real deal. Until then, I do not recommend serving them quite this way on other days of the year, unless I am your dinner guest and then sculpt away, I am totally into it.
Season cream cheese with lemon juice and cayenne, make oval shapes like berries, then roll them in well-drained caviar until they look like blackberries. A touch of parsley or cress at the top will add to the appearance. This idea may be carried out with high seasoning for the cheese and chopped ripe olives for the covering.*
*The lemon juice makes the cream cheese extremely soft, which is great for rolling in caviar or olives, but not so great for putting on a toothpick and getting into your mouth in one piece. Chill these babies until they're firm and serve them cold.